Our current president, Ruth Bernstone, gave the following report at our general meeting:
2016 has come and gone, and as I went through the minutes, expertly prepared by our secretary Kathleen McCann, to refresh my memory, I was astounded at how many activities we participated in this year, and how many new volunteers we were able to attract who will contribute to our long term success.
In January, our own Representative Cindy Evans was awarded the Legislator of the year Award by the Friends of the Library of Hawaii and asked me to come and share this occasion with her. The Governor and Mrs. Ige were present, along with Stacey Aldrich and Keith Fujiyo from the State Librarian’s office, several legislators, Amy Asselbaye from the State Board of Education, and FLH affiliates. I was approached by many affiliates who wanted to learn all about our activities, and everyone was duly impressed! Even Nainoa, the Executive Director of FLH spoke of our organization as the most active in the state.
While the Bookmobile has become an institution in our neighborhood, and our dedicated volunteers (Derry Morris our chairwoman, Dan Reimer, Gloria and Larry Drinen, Melody Hills, Lynne Mclaren, Kaye Hegrenes and Elna Pendleton) keep the bookmobile looking topnotch every day, we have had our challenges this year with vandalism by some youngsters, including setting off fire extinguishers, scratching the woodwork with profanities, and generally making a mess. It’s a shame that respect for property is sometimes lacking, but we have decided to add a nanny cam to the bookmobile in order to try to prevent further damage. And, of course, regular maintenance is also required. Bette and Bob Green rotate the wheels on a regular basis, we repaired and repainted the pergola, replaced the battery and will be making repairs to the countertops and cushions in the near future as well. We are lucky to have Paula Kamiya, retired librarian to clean and organize the children’s books that are donated. And this year, we purchased books for the bookmobile for the first time in order to add books that encourage interest by girls in science and math.
This year, we continued our participation in programs such as Foodland’s Give Aloha in September and Amazon Smile, our co-sponsorship of the Waikoloa Talk Story nights, participation in the Mauna Lani Charity Trees event (we won second prize), the 5K Walk/run for Literacy chaired by Bette Green and Mali Mueller (116 participants), Silent Auction chaired by Cindy Kennedy and Stephanie Stearns (over 70 items), quilt drawing (thank you, Waikoloa Sew N Sews), the wonderful interactive Health Fair put together by Alexandra Bernstein, who also does P.R. for FL-WR, and sponsorship of our Newbery Quiz Bowl team. Thanks to all the many volunteers who are needed to make these events happen. And Chef Stephen and owner Abraham Go of Under the Bodhi Tree restaurant prepared another delicious fundraising dinner for us this November which sold out quickly. Financially, it was good year and we will have the funds we need to provide continuing literacy programs.
We purchased 10 more Kindle Fires for the Waikoloa Elementary and Middle School this year, a program arranged by Vivian Green, and are continuing discussions with both Waikoloa and Kealakehe High School librarians as to further contributions we can make to enhance their students access to ebooks and resource materials. We also purchased books for Waikoloa School that were missing for accompanying use with their audiobooks.
The Joseph E. Spadaro Memorial Scholarship is going strong, thanks to the generous support of Luella Spadaro and family. Our first student graduated last year with honors. We now have 2 students in their second year at Hawaii Community College at Hilo studying auto mechanics who will graduate in June and three students in their first year. In July, we had a get-together with students and their families at the Waikoloa Villas cabana. Their Kealakehe High School auto mechanics teacher, Chris Ibarra, a real mentor to these kids, also attended, as did Mary Spadaro, who talked about her father Joe. It gave the students an opportunity to share their experience with each other, and we enjoyed spending time getting to know them better too. And in March and April we will again be soliciting and reviewing more applications for students for the 2017-2018 school year.
As if they don’t do enough for our community, Luella Spadaro rewarded our board members with a great dinner in January. We all enjoyed the meal and the chance to socialize with each other. Luella celebrated her 98th birthday in February and enjoyed the flowers we sent her. I took the opportunity while I was in Honolulu in January to visit Luella at her assisted living facility. She invited Mike and I to join her and Mary for lunch while she told us stories of their 35 years living in Waikoloa.
We met several times for coffee with the outgoing and incoming presidents of the Honoka’a Friends when they came to Waikoloa for doctor appointments. They were very interested in our programs and these discussions led to a meeting in Hilo of all Big Island Friends which Alexandra and I attended and where we all had a chance to talk about our activities and challenges.
Thanks to volunteers Pat Cassel, Stephanie Stearns, Elna Pendleton, Shar Crawford, and Leann Cohen, we participated in the WV Ohanafest and gave away lots of children’s books.
We are in our second year of Baby’s First Book project, chaired by Mali Mueller, and thanks to a grant from Margaret Willi’s Discretionary Fund, we will continue to provide all newborns at NHCH with this beautiful book and get them started on a lifelong love of reading for another year.
This year we are again a sponsor of the Newbery Quiz Bowl, organized by our past school librarian Paula Kamiya, which will take place on March 29th at the Prince Hotel. We provide volunteers and this year we are excited to be sponsoring, along with a generous donor, the 2015 Newbery winning author, Kwame Alexander. His winning book, Crossover, is one of the 40 books the students will be reading this year, and he will act as Quizmaster. I’ve read the book and it is wonderful – full of rhythmic prose and an engaging story. We are also providing 100 student participants with a copy of his new book coming out in February called The Playbook: 52 Rules to Aim, Shoot, and Score in This Game Called Life, that will be signed by him. And we have a wonderful FL-WR team, led by our very own Lynne Mclaren.
We have been invited to participate in the Wiliwili Festival on January 28th. If anyone is interested in spearheading this effort and handing out pencils, bookmarks and books, please let us know and we can help recruit volunteers to assist you.
Today is a bittersweet day for me as I leave the office of the president and become a past-president on the FL-WR Board of Directors. I will continue as cochairwoman, along with Bette Green, of the scholarship program. I’m looking forward to having more time for cooking, baking, art, music and attention to good health, but it has been a real pleasure to work alongside so many wonderful volunteers – every one of whom contributes to our success each year.
We will miss Sandra Martin, who was our IT VP since we started and who is going off our BOD. She maintained our website, sent out our emails, taught us how to use the Square, and was always there when we needed her. But we are thrilled to have a new VP of IT and webmaster, Jessica Grinnell who will add her own talents and enthusiasm to our group.
We are also losing Mali Mueller, our VP of Programs and Activities for the last five years, and the organizer of our Baby’s First Book project. Another strong asset on our board of directors, we appreciated her professionalism, sense of humor and strong organizational skills, and hope that she will continue to volunteer as her time allows. Several people have indicated a willingness to help with the Baby’s First Book project and we are looking for a place to store the books beginning in February. Please let me know if you are interested in helping with the delivery of the books or of starting a new literacy project.
Thank you, Cathi Keene, Finance VP who has kept us on the financial straight and narrow for several years and Lynne Mclaren, our Executive VP, for continuing your participation on our Board.
And now, the plan was to present a musical trio of Kathy Fraser on cello, Marilyn Bernhardt on recorder and Brian Nakasone on guitar. Until, that is, Kathy broke 2 fingers this week! So instead, she will introduce Brian who will play us some guitar songs and we will play some of her recorded cello music while we enjoy cookies and sparkling cider.